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The Day My House Burned Down

Story ID:9648
Written by:Charles Dishno (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family Memories
Location:Bly Oregon USA
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The Day My House Burned Down
By Chuck Dishno

A tragedy occurred in July, 1940 that turned out to be the start of a whole new way of life and many good years for the Dishno family were to follow. I was 6 years old at the time.

I believe it was on a Sunday afternoon and my Mom & Dad were sitting out front of the house when a fire broke out in a woodshed on the lot next door to us. Within a few minutes our house was engulfed in flames as were a couple of out buildings and another house on the property next door. By the time help arrived, there was nothing left of our house except a pile of smoking cinders.

I should point out that the house wasnít much, just three ďtar paperĒ shacks butted together. We didnít even have indoor plumbing, only a cold water line and a tank on the side of the wood cook stove to heat the water. We lost almost everything. In the frantic attempt to get things out of the house we were able to salvage a few utensils and a toy Pinocchio hand puppet of mine. I saw my cat, Big Kitty, run into the fire and I started in after her. Someone saw me go in and drug me out. This act saved my life as the whole house came down a few seconds later. Big Kitty didnít come out and everyone assumed she was dead.

Living a small town like Bly, Oregon has itís perks. One of them is the close knit relationship that exists between the residents.

As I said, our house burned down on Sunday and since it was summer, we moved into the Bly School home-economics room where we set up a couple of donated beds and my Mom could use the cooking facilities. I donít think we even missed one meal.

Bly was a lumber town of about 400 hard working when the men. The next evening when the men came home from work, they came over to our house and started cleaning up the mess. In a few days they had it all leveled and ready for a new house. The Crane sawmill, donated all the lumber and the only dry goods store in town, Protsmanís, had a fire sale with the proceeds going to the Dishno family for clothing and anything else we needed to start anew. A couple of days later these great men, had the house framed and were working hard to get it completed before school started in September.

About the 4th or 5th day, Pop and I were walking back to the school and I heard a strange noise coming from under a large shrub next door. When I looked under it, there was Big Kitty!

What a sight she was. All her fur had been burned off and her feet were cracked and blistered. I picked her up and we took her back to the school. Pop put her in a box that he had lined with an old blanket and even though she was in pain, would purr loudly when she saw me.

Every day for about a week, Pop would look at her and say that he had to put her out of her misery. I would cry and beg him to give her one more day. One day he reported that she looked much better and maybe she would make it after all. Big Kitty did make it without any visible signs of her ordeal except that her fur never grew back on the tips of her ears and they were rounded and slightly brown. It sure didnít hurt her re-productive system though as she had at least two batches of kittens over the next eight or ten years. What stories she must have told those kittens.

As for our new house, it was completed in time and we moved in about Labor Day with a total cost to Pop of about $500 and what a house it was! We had, for the first time a real bathroom with a tub and a shower. It also had hot and cold running water. There were three bedrooms, living room, dining room and kitchen complete with an electric range. Pop also kept a wood cook stove in the corner of the kitchen. I donít think he trusted the electric one too much. He also kept the old outhouse that somehow escaped the fire. Remember, Pop was born and raised on a cattle ranch in Montana and was not used to those modern contraptions. We kept that old outhouse for many years and used it too. As I recall, it was a ďthree-holerĒ. When anyone asked Pop about the third hole, he would say, ďThatís in case we have companyĒ. These memories have stayed with me all these years and I am sure that many more occurred that I have forgotten.

We were forever grateful to the wonderful people of Bly and their caring ways. They came thru when adversity was staring us right in the face.

Somewhere in Heaven there must be a special Heavenly Cloud where people like our friends in Bly congregate to tell of their experiences in helping their fellow man. God Bless them all.